Brother of Manchester Arena bomber facing life in jail for mass murder

The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber is facing life in jail for mass murder, with his two-day sentencing hearing to begin today.

Hashem Abedi, now 23, was found guilty of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder, and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.

The Old Bailey heard that the Islamic State-inspired jihadi had helped his older sibling, Salman, who blew himself up in the attack after an Ariana Grande concert on the night of May 22, 2017.

Five people from the North East were among those who died.

They were; Chloe Rutherford, 17, and boyfriend Liam Curry, 19, from South Shields; Hartlepool-born Jane Tweddle, 51; and Philip Tron, 32, and his partner’s daughter Courtney Boyle, 19, from Gateshead.

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The defendant, who had travelled to Libya before the bombing, was extradited back to Britain to face trial.

The jury deliberated for five hours to find him guilty in March – just days before trials were halted as the nation was plunged into lockdown.

A memorial to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing at Victoria Station in Manchester. Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

Hashem Abedi, who absented himself from much of his trial and sacked his legal team, now faces a two-day sentencing before Mr Justice Jeremy Baker.

Families of the victims and survivors will follow the hearing by live link from Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow.

It is understood that Abedi cannot be handed a whole life sentence because he was under the age of 21 at the time of the offences.

A photo issued by Greater Manchester Police of Hashem Abedi, younger brother of the Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi, as he is facing life in jail for mass murder. Photo copyright GMP/PA Wire.

However, he could be given multiple life sentences with a minimum term starting point of 30 years.

During the trial, prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said Abedi was "just as guilty" as the bomber who killed 22 men, women and children aged between eight and 51.

From January 2017, the brothers set about buying nuts and screws for shrapnel and ordering chemicals from Amazon to make the homemade TATP explosives, with unwitting help from friends and relatives.

They hid their activities by switching mobile phones and using a variety of runaround vehicles, despite neither passing their driving test, to transport components around the city.

The families and friends of Chloe Rutherford, 17, and boyfriend Liam Curry, 19, from South Shields, have worked to support young people in their dreams after setting up an organisation in their memory.

They also secured two separate addresses away from their home in Elsmore Road, Fallowfield, Manchester - one to take delivery of the components and the other for a bomb-making factory.

Their plans were briefly scuppered when their parents insisted they join them in Libya in April 2017 amid possible concerns about their descent into radicalisation, police said, forcing the brothers to stockpile their stash in a second-hand Nissan Micra, bought for £250 the day before they left the UK.

Returning alone, Salman bought a rucksack, more shrapnel, constructed his bomb in a rented flat in central Manchester, and carried out reconnaissance missions.

Jurors were shown chilling CCTV footage of Salman travelling to the foyer of the Arena, before detonating his bomb at 10.31pm on May 22, just as crowds were leaving the venue.

Afterwards, Greater Manchester Police found Hashem Abedi's fingerprints at key addresses and in the Micra, which still contained traces of explosives.

He was arrested in Libya the next day and extradited last summer.

Hartlepool-born Jane Tweddle lost her life in the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017.

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The scene close to the Manchester Arena the morning after the terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert. Photo copyright Peter Byrne/PA Wire.